I wanted to reply to the question of the cost of living here in Kazakhstan. I live in Almaty and this is my fourth visit here but first time living beyond a summer. It is expensive and getting more so daily.
Cost of housing can vary but expect to pay $800 or more for a two room place. (All prices in USD or tenge)
Cost of transportation, buses, trams and trolleys are now 50 tenge.
Cost of taking "local" taxis, at least 300 tenge and up to 500 tenge or more after 7pm.
Food: Eating out at a typical fast food place will cost 600-1000 tenge for a burger, fries and coke. At a nice place expect the tab to run over 5000 tenge for two people and that would be for two main dishes, one shared salad, bread and beverages.
Buying food will depend on where you shop, Ramstor tends to be expensive, Groc is better on costs and bazaars are your best bet for cheaper produce and dry goods. Basics for a week, bread, milk, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, fruit and chicken can round around 4000 to 6000 tenge depending on where you buy them.
Personally I am finding that I can live on about $100 per week not including rent and utilities.
Utilities (gas, water, electric and such) runs around $80 per month.
Internet connection is with Megaline and not always dependable but it runs 5000 tenge per month.
The current exchange rate has been fluctuating between 119.5 to 120 at this time.
Overall I find living here to be on par with living back home in California. I save some money since I don't have a car here and don't have to pay car insurance either.
Medical care is something I can't give any opinion on since I have not had an occassion to have to use it. I am told that you can find some Western doctors here and that the care is good.
Language is basically now about 50% Russian and 50% Kazakh and you can find many young people who speak English.
I have been here three times before working on short term projects in the summertime. The weather at that time was usually very hot but not humid which after the humidity in China having heat sans humidity is preferred. Summer temps can get to be over 100F but usually stay in the 90's.
This is my first time being here for the other seasons and all I can say right now is the fall season was short and sweet but what I saw of it was nice. The winter is proving to be much colder and I am told long, meaning it could last until April. I am told it will snow here but the worst of it is the ice. Temps I am told can get in the teens. Again I am using F not C to quote temps.
Spring I am told will also be short and sweet but nice, I am looking forward to it.
This is a great place overall and the country is changing rapidly but there are still overt signs of Soviet influence all over the place which adds to the charm in my opinion.
I think I covered all the basics if not feel free to let me know...also just learning how to do things on this site so bear with me.